New Delhi, Sep 16 (UNI) The President of the country has recognised a film which was initially banned by the Censor Board.
The film 'Final Solution' on the Godhra riots and its aftermath by Rakesh Sharma was granted certificate for public exhibition without any cuts after widespread protest by various sections of civil society.
Sharma, along with two other noted documentary filmmakers Guarav Jani and Praveen Kumar, received the 53rd National Awards from President Pratibha Patil on Friday while handing her a petition against the censorship regime of the country.
''We would not have been here to receive the honour from you but for an intervention by the court, as the Censor Board did everything to block our participation,'' they said in the petition.
Deploring the attitude of the Censor Board, the petition pointed out that in sharp contrast to the view taken by the NFA jury, the Board while banning 'Final Solution in 2004, had observed that the film ''promotes communal disharmony among Hindu and Muslim groups and presents the picture of the Gujarat riots in a way that it may arouse communal feelings and clashes among the two groups.'' The jury in its citation for the film said the film was given the award for ''Its powerful, hard-hitting documentation with a brutally honest approach lending incisive insights into the Godhra incident, its aftermath and abatement of large scale violence.'' The petitioners said the film's director was earlier endlessly harassed by Censor Board officials.
Besides Final Solution, several National Award winning documentaries including Riding Solo to the Top of the World (Best non-feature film) by Gaurav Jani and 'Naina Jogin' (Special Jury Award) by Praveen Kumar, were considered entry for the Awards only after a law suit was filed by documentary film makers.
The film makers had to go to the court because all documentaries using the video format were being prevented from competing for the National Films Awards.
In their petition to the President, the film makers said in the notification for the 53rd National Film Awards(NFA) guidelines, the video format was suddenly and unilaterally excluded from eligibility without any consultation with the documentary film making community.
Thereafter, Gaurav Jani, Anand Patwardhan and Simantini Dhuru filed a writ petition in the Mumbai High Court challenging the clause. The Directorate of Film Festival(DFF) amended the files soon after and invited entries in the video format.
The writ petition also challenged the mandatory requirement of censorship prior to consideration by the NFA jury. The Mumbai High Court ruled in favour of the film makers. But while the NFA rules were being amended to allow video format, the DFA went to the Supreme Court for remedy.
The Court finally ruled on a technicality that while it would not object to the government withdrawing the censorship clause, the court did not see it fit to order the government to do so. A review petition has been filed in the matter which is yet to come up for hearing, the petitioner told the President.
They urged her to consider a comprehensive review of the Cinematograph Act of 1952 as several of its provisions were anachronistic and outmoded.
They demanded that either the certification by the Censor Board be scrapped or the Board should evolve a distinct and separate code for documentaries, as opposed to the certification of narrative feature films.
Accreditation of documentary film makers with the Press Information Bureau on the same lines as for TV journalists was also among their demands.
Referring to frequent disruptions of trade screenings and film appreciation sessions by a police, they demanded that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting allow screening of documentary films without being forced to seek specific exemptions under section 19 of the Cinematograph Act for each screening.